Thank you for joining us for Part 4 of Col Blashford-Snell’s Amazon expedition report. You can read Parts 1, 2 and 3 here.
(A summary of the Colombian Amazonas Expedition 2017)
Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE FRSGS
Our usual Burns Supper was held on 27th May. Above us the stars twinkled in the cloudless sky, free from light pollution. Haggis, provided by Stahlys Quality Foods of Scotland, was served, together with an unexpected local dish. Alvaro the Pastor had been invited and asked if he could bring something for the local people to eat at dinner. Thus the reverend gentleman turned up with a six-foot alligator he had caught that morning. The Indians tucked into this and also loved the haggis!
A dram or two and some Chilean Merlot helped to wash it all down. However, the hot humid night did not encourage much reeling so we watched dancing by a Ticuna group in traditional dress and listened to songs by the children.
I guess we all felt a little sad to say farewell to our new friends at San Juan as they helped us load the flagship. The moment was lightened by Simon, who fell into the river whilst carrying a box of rations onto the boat. However, to make up for his unsuccessful fishing he emerged from the depths clutching a tin of sardines!
Many of the Ticuna brought us simple handicraft gifts and some of the team were adorned with jet black tattoos. In return we handed over food, tools and medical supplies. Alvaro said a prayer and blessed us, but Gilberson and Dago could not bear to leave us and insisted on coming all the way to Leticia.
As Victor, our faithful skipper, nosed the flagship into the gentle waters of the Loreto Yaku, a couple of strawberry-pink dolphins swam by and a brilliant blue macaw screamed from a tall palm. It was a sight few will forget.
A night stop at Puerto Narino enabled us to formally present the ambulance boat to Aticoya. Clinique La Prairie T shirts were given out and Rusbel made a speech of appreciation in the Ticuna language, thanking us for our work and the valued gift.
With a couple of hours to spare, Simon, Alastair and a few stalwarts hired a boat to take them over the river to a Peruvian island to see an anaconda that had been captured. Simon, a keen conservationist, bought the six-foot constrictor and, placing it on a giant Victorian Lily, released it to the wild.
Back at Leticia we enjoyed a tasty dinner and thanked Juan Alan Mun̕oz and Leonor for all the help they and MMI had given us, after which a few walked over the nearby border into Brazil to say they had been there!
By a miracle Yoli managed to get the team and its mountain of baggage onto the Avianca flight to Bogota. After the humid heat of the Amazon, the Capital Hotel was quite a contrast. The staff there deserve high praise for their friendly efficiency and the delicious cuisine.
Thus ended a challenging but very worthwhile expedition in the spirit of the Scientific Exploration Society, that had achieved its aim and been of real help to the Ticuna of the Loreto Yaku.
Thank you to Col Blashford-Snell for sharing his report with us! We hope you have all enjoyed reading it.